Patriarch

a name employed in the New Testament with reference to Abraham
(Heb. 7:4), the sons of Jacob (Acts 7:8, 9), and to David
(2:29). This name is generally applied to the progenitors of
families or "heads of the fathers" (Josh. 14:1) mentioned in
Scripture, and they are spoken of as antediluvian (from Adam to
Noah) and post-diluvian (from Noah to Jacob) patriachs. But the
expression "the patriarch," by way of eminence, is applied to
the twelve sons of Jacob, or to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

"Patriachal longevity presents itself as one of the most
striking of the facts concerning mankind which the early history
of the Book of Genesis places before us...There is a large
amount of consentient tradition to the effect that the life of
man was originally far more prolonged than it is at present,
extending to at least several hundred years. The Babylonians,
Egyptians, and Chinese exaggerated these hundreds into
thousands. The Greeks and Romans, with more moderation, limited
human life within a thousand or eight hundred years. The Hindus
still farther shortened the term. Their books taught that in the
first age of the world man was free from diseases, and lived
ordinarily four hundred years; in the second age the term of
life was reduced from four hundred to three hundred; in the
third it became two hundred; in the fourth and last it was
brought down to one hundred" (Rawlinson's Historical
Illustrations).